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EPA delays ethanol decision until mid-2010

A decision on whether to increase the ethanol blend cap to 15 percent for a gallon of gasoline has been delayed until mid-2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said today.

EPA said more testing was needed before it could make ruling.

Growth Energy, an ethanol trade group, asked the EPA in March to increase the blend level to 15 percent, or E15, from 10 percent. Under the Clean Air Act, the agency was required to respond by today.

"While not all tests have been completed," the EPA said in a statement, "results of two tests indicate that engines in newer cars likely can handle an ethanol blend higher than the current 10 percent limit.

"The agency will decide whether to raise the blending limit when more testing data is available."

The Renewable Fuels Association, another ethanol trade group, criticized the delay and called for the EPA to immediately increase the blend to intermediate levels, such as E12.

"This delay threatens to paralyze the continued evolution of America's ethanol industry," RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen said in a statement. "As EPA itself indicated, the scientific data to date has demonstrated no ill-effects of increased ethanol use in any vehicle currently on the road."

The ethanol industry has said increasing the blend to 15 percent would create 136,000 to new U.S. jobs.

The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing the nation's large oil companies, called EPA's ruling "a sound decision."

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